Online retail holiday spending hits $15.6 billion: comScore

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Online retail spending hit $15.6 billion for the season to date, a 25 percent increase from the corresponding days in 2005, according to comScore Networks.

The survey measured consumer online retail spending at U.S. Web sites for the 2006 holiday season for the first 38 days, Nov. 1 through Dec. 8. Gian Fulgoni, chairman of comScore, Reston, VA, said it's not just the major retailers who are seeing these increases.

"In particular, we saw a very aggressive online marketing effort from the bricks-and-mortar retailers that were well integrated and coordinated with their retail stores and which allowed them to increase sales at a faster rate than we saw for the pure-play retailers," Mr. Fulgoni said.

While Amazon ranks first in online sales this season, only three of the 10 largest online retailers are pure-plays. Retailers with bricks-and-mortar stores take seven of the top 10 spots.

Despite the first mover advantage held by online-only retailers, an analysis of sales by retailer for the 2006 holiday season through Dec. 8 reveals the current strength of multi-channel retailers.

Some sites are generating growth rates in excess of 50 percent over the same period last year. BestBuy.com ranks highest in sales growth, followed by Ticketmaster.com, Walmart.com, Apple.com and Victoriassecret.com, revealing the strength of the multichannel retailers.

Mr. Fulgoni expects sales growth to be strong for the rest of the season and continue into 2007.

"The opportunity is to continue to attract new online buyers and to increase the spending per existing buyer by driving sales growth across a broad set of categories, especially those with higher ticket prices," Mr. Fulgoni said.

"The threat is that economic growth could falter, causing consumer spending to slowdown online and at retail," he said. "Also of concern is the degree to which retailers have to discount prices to stimulate sales."

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